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June 26- Day 50

Fifty days. I'm impressed with myself. But needless to say when I'm staying at a friendly house being served dinner and having a bath and a nice bed and then breakfast, you feel a little less the Indiana Jones type. Of course, even Indy appreciates every opportunity to clean up and get refreshed, and this did the trick nicely.

After a breakfast of cheese, mushroom and onion omelette, I did the interview with Bev (Mel's mom), since I did see her fairly often when visiting Mel before they left for Kincardine.

If all goes well (and lately I don't know if that's possible) I will be in Nobleton today. At the latest by tomorrow.

I'm lunching at a nice town called Mildmay, about 50k into today's journey. It's almost noon and I'm close to topping my other two days distances! I feel confident about reaching Nobleton by tonight.

Normally when I need a microwave I give my entire preamble about the trip before asking if I can use it. Today I just barged into a Beckers and said "Where's the microwave?" then proceeded to take over the entire corner in the preparation of lunch (another mac&cheese+tuna). Afterwards I explained the situation.

The ride so far hasn't been eventful, just lots of riding, lots of scenery, the odd chat with a local. Only a so-called "Zoo" on the side of the road caught my attention. Think a couple dozen small pens with animals in each by the side of the road. More like a prison than a proper zoo.

Time spent cycling: 7:11:18 hours

Distance traveled: 169.84 km

Total distance: 3987 km

Average Speed: 23.6 kph

Maximum speed: 63.7 kph

Current Location: Jason and Mel's in Nobleton (north of Toronto)

A long ride today, not the longest, but a good long run. I wasn't really interested in the sights and there weren't really any to see. I did see a horse and buggy riding along in the other direction. We looked at each other pass, the past and the future.

At Orangeville, not much to see, but I took a break and ate some Zoodles (Zoodles are animal noodles, don't ya know). Eventually I hit highway 50 heading south, and stopped about 20k shy of Jason and Mel's place. They gave me a ride the rest of the way, and we got some groceries and picked up pizza and wings. So right now I'm relaxing and chatting the night away with old friends. Things are right in the world.



June 27- July 11 Days 51-65

The Southern Ontario Layover. Again, only highlights will be mentioned, other than that I'll simply be resting and relaxing, with the occasional loafing around thrown in for good measure.

Jason found a classic old game which Wyatt and I had got him many years ago: King of the Sandbox. It's a tabletop strategy wargame set to a pre-school recess environment. You try to influence kids to join your side and beat other kids up. Weapons include sand (to blind) sticks, pails (to carry things) and shovels. You can bribe kids to join you with loose change, and that change can also be used to buy chocolate bars (good for bribing or restoring a kid who's been beaten up), or pop (same thing except it can also be used as a flash-bang grenade when shaken up). I'm going to make a copy of this game and bring it to B.C. for everyone to try.

The next couple days were uneventful, just relaxing, playing the computer, watching TV...

On Friday I went to see Wyatt. Jason could only take me as far as York University, so I unexpectedly had a trip down memory lane.

It's only been a couple years, but I really miss this place. Part of me wants to go back to university and get my Masters, maybe become a teacher...

But then I got to thinking. WHY do I miss the place? Do I actually enjoy school, or is this a "safe" place. After all, what is the one constant I've had from 5 until almost 25? School. So by leaving it behind, I'm leaving behind something I've lived with for nearly twenty years.

Granted, I do enjoy learning, and regret not having put a stronger effort into it when I had the chance, but when you walk down the familiar corridors and even remember the smell of the air, education can't be the only factor in my desire to return. Food for thought.

Speaking of food, I had a chicken shawarma at their mini mall. I love the ones in Vancouver (The Falafel House on Granville, I highly recommend it if you're in the neighborhood), and this came close, but not close enough. Not enough sauce. But I digress...

I've actually been kinda depressed the past few days. At first it was great to be back with Jason and Mel and now seeing Wyatt... but the ever present sense that I can't stay, that I have to move on and face the conditions I have been for fifty days for who knows how many more, it puts a damper on the situation. The fact we can't all get together in one place doesn't help, either. I've never wholly believed in the saying "you can't go home again", but times like this make me wonder.

As I ride the subway I have this strange feeling... like I never left Toronto. Like Vancouver and Victoria were either just a long vacation, or a very real dream. B.C. suddenly feels like the past.

That changes as soon as I'm at Wyatt's apartment. There is nothing familiar here, except for a few items he had when we shared an apartment. It's a weird little place, it is. First off, you have to go through three sets of doors to get inside, each one smaller and in a darker room than the last. I half expected a small table with a bottle of liquid that had a card beside it which read "Drink Me".

Am I a writer?

This question has been plaguing me since I left Victoria. This trip is supposed to be for a book I'm going to write, yet I constantly question my ability to write it. To write at all. Often times I feel like I'm just pretending to be something I'm not. That I'm just a GM worker in denial. That is my greatest fear: to aspire to be something special when I am and always will be mediocre...

Imagine an ape who learns to communicate with people through sign language. The smartest ape ever. And over the years as he is taught by people and communicate with them, he can actually realize how much the world has to offer. He also realizes that he can never be a part of any of it. Because the smartest monkey in the world is still just a dumb ape. He realizes he can never drive a car, understand poetry or books or plays, speak a single word of english, or be respected as an equal. The closest he can hope for is to drive a modified golf cart on a closed track under close supervision, have "A is for Apple" read to him over and over, grunt and howl and try in vain to get meaning across vocally, and be coddled like a child forever. Imagine being able to glimpse at a world greater than your own, yet never be able to be part of it, no matter how hard you try or wish it to be so.

Welcome to my idea of Hell, and my greatest fear is that I'm already in it.

Canada Day gave me a chance to play soldier. With eight other people I spent the day playing paintball. I actually did quite well, got killed a couple times, but survived and won when it counted. Wyatt and I worked well as a team, which bodes well for the coming continuation of my journey. Wyatt, however, had his own problems, running straight into a rust barbed wire fence and scratching his abdomen all up. After the game we went to the hospital and waited two hours just to get him a lousy tetnis shot.

The next day, I found myself waking up, eating, using the computer, then repeatedly napping until nearly five in the afternoon. I then helped a friend of Wyatt's to move, and found myself napping again on the couch waiting for someone to show up with a moving van.

A thought: It's been well over fifty days since I left home for this journey. A journey which I have wondered since day one whether it will change my life, whether I'll be the same person when it's over. And right now, during a nap, I realized something. Hell no! I realized that few people could ever have a profound experience that fundamentally changes who they are. Those that claim to are being wholly artificial. People can be ready for change, but real change is something of slow degrees, not in a blinding flash. Anyone who changes overnight is probably fooling themselves. You can suddenly become consciously aware of a part of yourself that was always there but never noticed, you can learn from your mistakes with varying degrees of success, and you can even make resolutions for change and stick to them through willpower. But you can't change who you fundamentally are because of a single journey or revelation.

For example, I don't think people on Death Row who suddenly "find Jesus" are any different or better than they were before. They may WANT to be, sincerely and honestly. This can affect their outward demeanor, and make them seem like some woe-filled and nearly noble saint willing to die for their sins. But it is a show, but on for their own benefit as much as anyone else's.

But this is too easy a target. The same is true of most people who have had a profound change in their life. A person's desire to be a different person can cause them to ACT differently, and fool everyone, including themselves. But the core of being cannot be changed so easily, and if the facade doesn't break down quickly, it's only because it's not so wholly incompatible with their previous life as you might think.

The human consciousness is, in a manner of speaking, a series of switches. If you look at it in very general terms, our switches work in the same way.

Hand on flame = Pain

Sight of favorite food = Salivation

News of loved one's death = Sorrow

In car that loses control = Fear

But like a Jacquard's Loom, the pattern you get is determined entirely by which holes you punch in the card. A person can be taught to react to stimulus in a way that is not considered by most of us to be normal.

Hand on flame = get a rush

Sight of favorite food = nausea

News of loved one's death = laughter

In car that loses control = Turned on

After hours of helping Wyatt's friends move, I went to a BBQ at Jen's house (across the street from Wyatt). While the menu was entirely vegetarian, the food was quite good, and Nanaimo bars to boot! Mmmmmm...

Saw Fight Club and stayed up until nearly five in the morning. Good God, I'm here fore three days and already I'm Wyatt!

The movie was great. It got me thinking about a lot of things, it's definitely good for that purpose. However, one thing I can't help but think about had nothing to do with the movie at all, it was something I read in the information booklet about its making. Apparently 85% of all books are bought by middle aged women. It made me worry about the fate of writers daring to be different, who are already on the margins, and will end up even more so in the future. What happens when that 85% becomes 100% and those writers who are even a minor risk for not making money are forced into a medium that has nearly no overhead and nearly all profit: the internet.

The internet could become the bastion of the damned. Those who don't fit into the bestselling formula will be forced to spread the word online. I like the internet, and always have, but in the case of publication I always wanted it to go hand in hand with the printed word. An option, not a cyber goolag for new writers or alternative writers or anything that doesn't sound like an instant hit. A virtual prison, where the prisoners have megaphones and can yell at the distant city all they want and attract attention any way they can, but denied the prestige of physical publication. Perhaps someone gains popular approval, and enough of a gathering that the publishing warden let them free and grants them a licence to print. That author now becomes considered "legit".

The internet is an ethereal place, full of ideas, but not corporeal. Not physically real. Deleting a file is far easier than burning a book, and has no moral repercussions. Think of the possible repercussions here. Say a hundred years ago an author gets ten thousand copies of a book published, and never publishes again. I'm willing to bet that at least one thousand (and probably more) of those books would have survived to present day. Lost in attics, on dusty book shelves, in old libraries, used book stores, ect... Each one has the opportunity to attract a reader's eye, draw them in, read the book, and give it life again. Maybe they'll like it so much they'll tell their friends and share it with them. The ideas of the author lives.

Contrast with the internet. Ten thousand copies of the book are downloaded onto computers and the author never publishes again. Just how many of those files do you think will survive one YEAR?

Maybe the nature of information is going to change because of this, and a person will have to work infinitely harder if their words are going to last? I have no idea.

Where the hell did the time go??? Last thing I remember I bought Starcraft for Wyatt's computer a few days ago and now I'm in a GO train station with a foggy haze of memory of the two of us doing nothing but play Starcraft every day until the wee hours of the morning...

I exaggerate, but the time has flown by faster than I felt it necessary to record. Heading to Oshawa now and on Monday, if all goes well, Wyatt and I will be leaving together. However, things rarely turn out the way I plan. Already Wyatt has serious problems at school regarding his courses for next term and the credits he should already have, and I fear he might have to forsake our adventure together. I thought as much would happen. It's not his fault, but I've had a feeling it might happen for quite some time now.

Why is it that part of me is loathe to visit here again? Maybe because I spent the better part of my life trying to leave? Maybe because I arrived alone, and because I may leave alone as well? What am I afraid of? Sorry that I have only questions right now, but they vex me. I feel... annoyed somehow, and yet I have no logical reason to feel so. It's just Oshawa, the place I was born... why should I hold contempt for this city?

This house has had some kind of effect on me. I feel drained, lethargic, tired, passive. I also feel restless, pensive, and fidgety. Grandma received a pad of fridge magnets words which you can arrange in any order. It's obviously meant to be inspirational, and nauseatingly so. Every third word is something like "success", "achieve", or "perseverance".

I was not in an inspirational mood, but I was in a creative one. Here's what I managed to make out of the word pad (without reusing words)

First the mountains were hard work

every person you find gives help

stay

wait

now quit your dreams

Imagine

I'm doing time

the destination is a dream

and I don't dare think

except of you

My love

heart

life

Do you limit me?

Spent the day hanging out with James, Dan, Jason, and Mel. Got a copy made of King of the Sandbox at last. But mostly just drove around town and window shopped. Mailed off my latest package to Gillian.

I was a little annoyed at Wyatt today. He didn't show up until midnight. Jason and Mel headed back to Nobleton already. Like I said, it's not his fault. It never is, but it always happen. I hold him no grudge, I know that shit happens, but when it happens all the time you can't help but be annoyed. All I wanted was one lousy hour with everyone together. Just one.

Found out just a minute ago that Tracy had a motorcycle accident! She broke her hip and wrist, and will be off her feet for eight weeks. Made my road rash seem pretty pathetic, doesn't it? Hope she heals quickly and ss riding again soon!

On Monday, we were supposed to leave. Up to this point, I've been spiraling down into a lethargic cycle, but one day back on the road will change that. What I'm more concerned about is that I'm scared to leave! I think it's because part of me is convinced that Wyatt won't come with me, even though he is here with all his gear.

His "gear" consists of an old sleeping bag, foam bedroll, and tarp for sleeping. On the front is a wicker basket for everything else. And I thought I was a minimalist adventurer.

We had to delay for a day, after getting some odds and ends and finally ready to travel, but after a minor accident, Wyatt's rear wheel had to go into a bike shop to get it trued. On top of that, Wyatt's YTV project turned out to be flawed. He has to go back for the day and fix it up. Wyatt just has this kind of luck. You get used to it. Honest.

But this turned out to be a good thing, since I got grandma to do the survey with me. I had to type it out since she didn't want her voice recorded, the first one so far (I thought there would have been many more to be honest).

Guess what? Wyatt was delayed again. What a surprise. I hate repeating myself but, it's not his fault. He says he'll be here in time for us to leave by noon. We'll see. If that's the case, you'll hear from me next when we reach Ottawa.



Onto Day 66...